Today is World Health Day. Started in 1950 by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Health Day has been anchored by annual themes since 1991, and themes of late have corresponded with trends in news, society and healthcare. In 2017, World Health Day addressed depression. In 2020, World Health Day focused on supporting nurses and midwives. And in 2022, the World Health Day theme is focused on health promotion for well-being, equity and sustainable development. It’s a time to focus our attention on global health issues and promote well-being in our communities.
And it doesn’t need to start and stop in just one day. In fact, you could take a step back and generalize every day as a day to make health a priority for yourself and your community. But let’s start with today’s theme, which is aimed largely at reimagining a world where clean air, food and water are accessible to all.
“Our political, social and commercial decisions are driving the climate and health crisis. Over 90% of people breathe unhealthy air resulting from burning of fossil fuels,” says the World Health Organization. And according to WHO statistics, air pollution kills 7 million people every year, 4 million of whom die from indoor air pollution.
Inhaling air pollution takes away at least 1-2 years of a typical human life. Fortunately, there are simple, effective ways to cut down on air pollution, starting with transportation, life at home and nutrition.
- Cut down on car use: Walk or ride a bike when possible. It’s a simple way to cut down on fossil fuel use, get exercise and explore your world.
- If you must drive, and chances are you do from time to time, you can take steps to optimize your car to be fuel efficient, such as maintaining proper air pressure in your car tires, not idling and gradually accelerating.
- Take a cold shower: While this doesn’t sound fun, it’s actually quite invigorating for the body and requires less hot water heater use, which are typically heated by fossil fuels. In fact, researchers have found that cold showers may heighten your immune system, so you’re doing yourself and the environment a favor.
- Plant and grow trees at home: This helps to release more oxygen into the atmosphere. Some house plants can even help remove toxins from the air.
- Eat organic: Locally produced vegetables and meats are easy to find in many places. Purchasing these means fewer miles were traveled by delivery trucks, limiting air pollutants, but also helping the local economy. And you’re giving back to your local community.
Naturally, change is hard, but there’s no better day than today to change. And if you need further information on ways to fight air pollution worldwide, the World Health Organization is here to help.